Thursday, April 19, 2018

We Need A President Everyone Can Support

I was search through old files looking for some thoughts on Ecclesiastes. I came across this blog post from 2009. Nearly a decade later, it seems strangely appropriate and timeless.

This was printed in the Fruitport paper. It's an essay by Liam entitled:

If I Were President

If I were president I wouldn't let people who aren't in charge fire people. Smoking would be illegal because smoking can kill. I might spend time experimenting and helping other scientists. And the Iraq war is over, but I want some Iraqi people to be happy for our help. I'd pray for them every day. I'd try not to make a second Great Depression. Soon, when I get the feel of being president I'd explore justice to my country. If there's a war, I'll try to settle it with kindness. Maybe we just misunderstood each other. But if we must have a war, I'll pick a general who is wise and honorable like George Washington, troops who will listen to their general and who will do their best. When the war ends, it might be time for me to leave office. I might get elected again. I'll do the same thing. But then it will be time for me to go. I'll be an old man by then and I hope some day somebody will say, "Wow, what a great president Liam David Rudd was." This country is a great country.

Commentary:

- It took me a minute to figure out what he meant by the first sentence. I'm pretty sure he's referring to the labor union's co-opting personnel decisions from management. (really.)

- I love his take on war.

- His desire for a legacy was a bit surprising, but clearly common to man (read Ecclesiastes).

Friday, April 13, 2018

13 Reasons Your Vertical Relationship Is Not Independent of Your Horizontal Relationships

Your standing with God cannot be viewed as an isolated relationship, disconnected from the rest of your life. Your vertical life matters, however it is a great unbiblical error to ignore your horizontal life.

Since it's Friday the 13th, here are 13 reasons your horizontal relationships matter.

1. When we were saved, we were baptized into a body (1 Cor.12)

2. Christ's final command was to "love one another". (John 13)

3. Christ's one prayer for the church was "unity" (John 17)

4. Man was created in the image of God. Unity with diversity. (Gen 1-2)

5. It is not good for man to be alone. (Gen. 2)

6. The mission of the church cannot be accomplished if we do not love one another (John 13,17)

7. The message the apostles taught new believers from the beginning was to "love one another" (1 John 3)

8. A mature church is a unified church. (Eph. 4)

9. Our "spiritual worship" is necessarily tied to our love for each other. (Rom. 12)

10. Jesus' example was to sacrifice solitude in favor of service. (Luke 9)

11. We are called to think more highly of others than ourselves. (Philp. 2)

12. Jesus expected us to seek FIRST the kingdom. (Matt. 6)

13. Righteousness requires justice and mercy. (Amos)

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Thoughts and Prayers

Thoughts and prayers are not the same thing. We need to stop acting as if they are. Thoughts and prayers do not go hand-in-hand. We need to stop acting as if they do.

Every time you hear someone say, "Thoughts and prayers are not enough", you are being manipulated and you need to understand why.

THOUGHTS ARE NOT ENOUGH

Unless accompanied by action, thoughts accomplish nothing. Your thoughts may be a step along the way toward an action, but on their own, they are ineffective and in many ways without consequence. Every person chooses not to act on their mind's thoughts hundreds of times a day. A person who always says or does whatever comes to mind is considered posses little to no self-control.

The idea of "sending thoughts someone's way" originated out of a desire to not have to tell someone you were "praying for them." It is a tool used by those who desire to empathize or want to give words of comfort but are unwilling to do so in religious terms.

Other variations of "sending thoughts" might be:

  • "Sending my love."
  • "Thinking of you."
  • "Wishing positive energy for you."
  • "You're on my mind."
  • "Sending good vibes."

None of these are wrong or harmful, but in real life, none of them really accomplish anything other than perhaps cheering up a friend or encouraging a downtrodden soul. This is why James said, "If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and filled,' without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?" Words, even kind and caring words, are no good without action.

When encouragement is needed, expressed thoughts may be the perfect solution. When change is necessary, thoughts are not enough.

But thoughts and prayers are not the same thing.

PRAYER IS MORE THAN ENOUGH

The reason we pray is precisely because we know we are incapable of accomplishing what needs to be done yet we trust that God is more than capable and has already promised to always accomplish what needs to be done.

We pray for those who have been hurt because we know God can bring comfort and sustain them through their pain. We pray for those who have done the hurting because we know God can forgive them and change their hearts. We pray for those must find solutions because we know God can grant them the wisdom and discernment necessary to lead us well. We pray for those with whom we disagree because we know God can empower us to listen and find unity in our action.

Thoughts, on their own, will never accomplish anything.
Prayer is all that is needed to accomplish everything.

In recent days, we have all heard it said, "thoughts and prayers are not enough." More often than not, this is in regards to gun violence. While this clever and memorable sound-bite sounds convincing, it is actually misleading, harmful and deeply pagan. Although one might expect this to be the mantra of an activist atheist, these words should never pass the lips of a professing Christian.

Often in politics, a person can be discredited not by anything they have said or done but because they are connected with someone else who has acted inappropriately. This is why many campaigns often try to link an opponent with a different nefarious character. Even though the politician may not deserve scorn or anger, their attachment (real or invented) to someone else can be an anchor that drowns their campaign.

This is precisely what has been done to prayer through the "thoughts and prayers" campaign.

We who follow Christ often send our thoughts to others (albeit always through words). We encourage one another, we build one another up, we let them know they are important to us. However, thoughts are very different than prayers. By allowing the social media universe to link "thoughts and prayers" to one another, the power of prayer has been lost to the inefficiency of thoughts.

Thoughts and prayers do not belong together. They are not the same.

It is a noble sentiment to express to someone that you are thinking of them. Your friends and family members are encouraged to know that they are on your mind. Yet, it is a far greater gift to bring those you love (and even those who don't love you) before the throne of God.

We can all agree that thoughts are not enough. How can someone who believes in God say prayer is not enough? The time has arrived for us to abandon "thoughts and prayers", not because they aren't enough but because prayer truly is more than enough!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

How Jesus Demonstrated Leadership To His Disciples

If you aren’t sure what I mean by Leadership E-Words, go back and see this post about what every leader MUST do.
A while back, I came across some verses in Mark that prompted me to think about how Jesus guided the spiritual development of his disciples. So I used the Leadership E-Words as a template and was able to very quickly identify how Jesus used similar concepts to prepare the disciples for ministry.
These are all from the first half of Mark. I think you could do this exercise even better if you used the book of Matthew. It might also be interesting to look for similar patterns in Acts. I have no intention of doing either (unless some LifeWay editor is reading this and thinks it might make an interesting book, then I would be willing to write more… otherwise, probably not)
Here we go:

Jesus established a direction for his ministry.

Of course it was more about just identifying and clarifying God’s direction for His ministry… but that’s what we should be doing as spiritual guides anyway.
Mark 1:15 – “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Jesus explained to the disciples their role in the ministry’s direction.

Mark 1:17 – “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” (aside: If you aren’t a fisher of men, are you sure you’re a follower of Jesus?)

Jesus equipped the disciples to accomplish their role.

Apparently, Jesus’ plan was two-fold. 1) Let the disciples/apostles hang around and 2) Send the disciples/apostles away. Mark 3:14 – He appointed twelve—designating them apostles — that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach

Jesus enabled the disciples to be effective in their roles.

(an even better example of this step in in Matthew 28 and Acts 1, when Jesus gives the Holy Spirit as the ultimate enabler) Mark 6:8–11 – These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.”

Jesus encouraged the disciples in their efforts.

Mark 6:30–32 – The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.

Jesus evaluated their success and incompletions.

The two stories found in Matthew 6 (feeding the 5,000 and walking on the water) both serve as labs in which Jesus evaluated whether or not the disciples had learned from the job he had given them (going out and preaching). Unfortunately, they failed their evaluation. Fortunately, Mark has 16 chapters, so it isn’t over at the end of chapter 6. The final evaluation comes in Revelation!

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Friday, March 2, 2018

18 Absolutely Incontrovertible Laws of Leadership

The three core components of leadership (especially “Christian” leadership) are character, courage and competence. Courage and competence are important, but without character neither matters.

Beyond these three components, you can glean many leadership principles from many leadership gurus. Because my starting point is the Bible, my leadership principles might be a little different. Here are 18 of them:

  1. Leadership does not replace the Holy Spirit
  2. Leadership is a gift, not a position
  3. Leadership can be nurtured, but not created
  4. Leadership is a team sport
  5. Leadership "principles" do not trump Scripture
  6. Leadership is important, but not indispensable
  7. Leadership is not "the greatest gift"
  8. Leadership requires patience
  9. Leadership requires humility
  10. Leadership requires discipline
  11. Leadership requires discernment
  12. Leadership is not pastoring
  13. Pastoring is not leadership
  14. Leadership is not a dynamic personality
  15. Leadership is "giving away"
  16. Leadership happens right now, not in the future
  17. Leadership requires holistic vision and thought
  18. Leadership requires comprehension of systems